Spotted! Bringing theatre back to life with Instagram AR

Zulu Alpha Kilo helped the Young People's Theatre remind its core audience of the benefits of performing arts.

As it reopens its doors to audiences, the Young People’s Theatre is using the capabilities of augmented reality to remind audiences of the magic that happens on stage.

YPT is Canada’s largest professional theatre for young audiences, and it has worked with Zulu Alpha Kilo and Meta on a pair of AR filters on Instagram that allow parents and young people to participate in virtual plays. The AR provides the makeup, costumes and backdrop, with cues and lines appearing on-screen and gestures captured through facial recognition moving the action along and changing the scenery.

The AR effects allow kids to participate in two plays: one telling the story of an alien who found their voice through theatre and a zebra who learned of new possibilities and discovered new worlds when watching a live performance. Both effects are available on YPT’s own Instagram page, which is being driven to with video ads on the platform.

The campaign came during a hackathon event where Instagram parent company Meta brought Canadian creative thinkers together with its own Creative Shop to come up with ideas to support YPT and remind Canadians of the value of theatre and arts education.

While Young People’s Theatre recently began its 2021-2022 season, it comes after a year and a half of theatres across Canada being forced to keep their doors shut.

“We know there is no substitute for in-person theatre. But it’s wonderful that we have the technology to show children the benefits of theatre through AR,” says Brian Murray, ECD at Zulu Alpha Kilo.

Zulu Alpha Kilo is also among the first Canadian agencies to be certified in the Meta Spark AR platform, with its internal production division Zulubot bringing the idea to life. Zulu has been increasing its AR prowess this year, having also been the first Canadian agency to become a Snap AR lens partner earlier this year.